Manhattan Island, the commercial and business heart of New York City, is about 12 miles long by 3 miles wide. This large metropolitan area is vaguely divided into a number of different districts or communities. Each one has a different character or atmosphere.
Lower Manhattan : This is the southernmost tip of Manhattan Island. It encompasses Battery Park, the financial district including the New York Stock Exchange and the South Street Seaport. It is mostly commercial, but includes a few fine restaurants and bistros. From the docks in Lower Manhattan, you can take a ferry to Staten Island or the Statue of Liberty.
Chinatown: The neighborhood around the intersections of Canal and Mott Streets downtown contains one of the largest concentrations of Chinese living outside of Asia. It could be more accurately called Asiatown as it now includes many immigrants from Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and other Asian countries. Chinatown is famous for its reasonably priced restaurants featuring Chinese cuisine, its Asian grocery stores, and its unique Oriental gift shops.
Little Italy: The neighborhood next to Chinatown just north of Canal Street around Mulberry Street and Spring Street is called Little Italy. It features many restaurants offering diverse cuisine from the various regions of Italy. Scenes in the movie “The Godfather” were filmed here.
Greenwich Village: This Village extends across Manhattan between 14th and Houston Street with Broadway dividing it into two distinct districts known as the East Village and the West Village. The East Village is known for punk rock bars, funky cafes, experimental theaters and trendy boutiques. The tree-lined streets of the West Village with mellow jazz clubs and intimate apartments create the atmosphere of a small town nestled within the big city.
Tribeca: The Triangle below Canal Street that is bordered by Broadway and West Street is called TRIBECA. It was once the industrial district of New York City but its factories have been converted to apartments and condos that now attract famous residents like Robert DeNiro. It contains many famous upscale restaurants.
Soho: This neighborhood South of Houston Street with its 19th century cast-iron architecture is filled with art galleries, boutiques and a variety of restaurants.
Midtown: Generally, the area between 34th Street and the Southern end of Central Park is known as Midtown. It extends across Manhattan from the East River to Times Square and the Theater District on its western edge. It is the main business, commercial and shopping center of New York City. It contains the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the United Nations, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and many well-known stores.
Central Park: This vast quadrangle of grass and trees that lies in the center of Manhattan Island offers walking trails, horseback riding, ice skating, boating, bicycling, roller blading and many other sports facilities.
Upper East Side: The neighborhood bordering the East Side of Central Park from 59th Street to 96th Street is known as the Upper East Side and is the home of many wealthy and socially prominent New Yorkers. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum and several other fine museums are located here. It is also known for exclusive shopping and fine restaurants.
Upper West Side: On the opposite side of Central Park, the neighborhood between Columbus Circle and 125th Street is known as the Upper West Side. It includes the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts and the American Museum of Natural History. This exclusive area is home to many musicians, performers and celebrities. John Lennon lived here until his untimely death in nearby Central Park. It is known for great shopping and dining.
Harlem: The upper part of Manhattan Island between 96th Street east of the park and 125th street west of the park and extending to 165th Street is known as Harlem. It is the tradition home of a large Afro-American community and contains the famous Apollo Theater. The Southeastern section includes a predominately Hispanic neighborhood known as Spanish Harlem.
One of the best ways to see the entire island of Manhattan is to sail around it on a Circle Line Cruise. (West 42nd Street at Pier 83). This three-hour narrated tour offers terrific views of the city’s icons ( Statue of Liberty , Brooklyn Bridge ), as well as the weird fishin’ shacks along the Harlem Coast and the surprising greenery of the less-travelled northern end. Romantics will love the sunset cruise.
Built during America’s Great Depression, the Empire State Building (5th Avenue @ 34th Street) may no longer be the tallest building in the world, but it remains one of the city’s finest Art Deco masterpieces and is still the most famous silhouette in the skyline. Two observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors are open 365 days a year until 11.30 p.m. (King Kong not included.) The nearby Chrysler Building (Lexington @ 42nd Street) is the other Art Deco gem topped with a spire. Its lobby is filled with beautiful murals and detail, but alas, no observation deck.
A generous oasis of nature in the middle of Manhattan’s concrete jungle, Central Park changes colour with the seasons. Summer’s the perfect time to rent a boat and row around on The Lake, to sit along the rim of Bethesda Fountain, or to visit Strawberry Fields, just across the street from the signature apartment buildings of Central Park West, including the fabulous Dakota, of John and Yoko fame.
Popular attractions include:
American Museum of Natural History : From asteroids to zebra, this is the place where big kids and little kids come to have fun…and learn. Don’t miss the laser light shows and the Butterfly Exhibit. You can also see exhibits from ancient Egypt, Greece and even see the bones of dinosaurs including the fiercest of creatures to walk the earth: T-REX
Empire State Building: This sky-high tour is still one of the best bargains in the city.
Metropolitan Museum: The Met is not just one of the world’s greatest repositories of art, but also a center for non-art activity such as concerts, lectures, and educational programs.
New York Stock Exchange: This bastion of capitalism has always been a favorite of venture capitalists of all ages.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral: A central place of worship for the city’s thousands of Roman Catholics, St. Patrick’s nonetheless attracts worshipprers of all denominations.
Statue of Liberty: Located in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty was a gift of international friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States and is one of the most universal symbols of political freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and was designated a National Monument on October 15, 1924. The Statue was extensively restored in time for her spectacular centennial on July 4, 1986.
Ellis Island: Now a tourist attraction and an opportunity for americans to trace their ancestors voyage to the promised land. Ellis Island was formerley the immigration centre and entry point into the united states. Ellis island now features a nice museaum rolling back the years to the beginning of US history.
Madison Square Garden: One of the most famous ‘event’ arena’s in the US hosting big events such as music concerts, world championship boxing along with many other major sports events. It is also home to the New York Knicks.
Times Square: One of the liveliest night spots in the US, Times Square is the centre of the city that never sleeps and packs in a an incredible number of bars, eateries, nightclubs and hotels in its boundaries